51 Tips for a Successful Internship

 

Good internships are difficult to get your hands on and once you’ve secured one, it’s important to make the most of your short time in the company.

Whether you need help with interviews, networking with your new colleagues or advice on expanding your workload, take a look at these tips to make sure you can be selected for and take advantage of a brilliant internship opportunity.

Applying

1. Check the websites of companies you are interested in.

2. It’s also a good idea to register with a few of the many internship agencies that can be found online.

3. Use any contacts you already have to find out about vacancies.

4. Don’t be afraid to send speculative applications to companies you’re interested in.

5. Once you’ve found or been sent an opportunity that you’re interested in, take a look at the day-to-day tasks and development opportunities to ensure it will meet your requirements.

6. The next step is to send your CV to the company in an attempt to secure an interview.

7. Make sure your CV is professional and tailored for the job you’re applying for.

8. Ensure you ask someone to proofread your CV – spelling mistakes are likely to lose you a job opportunity despite any relevant experience you may already have.

9. If you’re still at university you may have access to a careers service that can help you put your CV together.

The Interview

10. Make sure you dress accordingly. If you’re not sure on the office culture, go smart.

11. Be polite at all times, saying please and thank-you goes a long way!

12. Prepare a few questions for your interviewer to show how interested you are in the company.

13. Re-visit the original advert for the interview to see the key qualities the interviewer will be looking for. This will enable you to pre-empt questions.

Preparation

It’s important to make sure you are well prepared for the first day.

14. Read up on the company you’ll be working for.

15. If it’s a small company, the website will often give short bios of senior members of staff and descriptions of departments. Check their latest press-releases and research the company using online search engines.

16. Try to find out the dress code through website images or contacts you already have.

17. Spend time thinking about what your main objectives are for the internship and how you’ll achieve them.

18. If you want to be offered a permanent role, treat the internship like a long interview and strive to appear innovative and useful to the company.

19. If you just want an introduction to the industry, focus on networking and building a list of contacts.

First Day

20. It’s important to remember that the first day, and probably the first week, will be a shock to the system!

21. Being new in the office is always tough but as long as you focus on working hard and being polite, you will soon fit into the team.

22. On your first day, use your introductory meeting with your supervisor to agree  the focus of your internship and the opportunities you’ll be given.

23. Try and go for coffee or have short meetings with the people you will be coming into contact with – this not only helps you to feel at home but will give others the perception that you are approachable and eager to learn from them.

24. Attend as many meetings as possible to get exposure to the right people and issues.

During Your Internship

25. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to – it’s always better to ask how to do something instead of doing it wrong.

26. Always ask for honest feedback from your colleagues and supervisor. You’re in an internship to learn; asking others to offer advice on your development points will help you to improve.

27. Be polite to everyone you work with. You never know what you might need from them next week!

28. Keep hard copies of feedback you receive and good work you do as an intern. It will be useful to return to once the internship is over.

29. Always take notes when you’re given instructions – it will help to prevent silly mistakes.

30. Don’t be downhearted if you feel some of the work you’re given is below your intelligence level. You still have to prove yourself and maintaining a good attitude at all times is important.

31. Be innovative. Look for opportunities to prove yourself as a useful asset to the company; this could be by designing a social networking page or reorganising the filing system.

32. If you can get 15 minutes of time with someone senior, produce a short presentation to show them an idea you have for the company.

What If It Goes Wrong?

33. One such issue could be that you are stuck carrying out menial tasks without any opportunity to get involved in interesting projects. If this is the case for you, make it clear to your supervisor that you are happy to carry on with the work you have been given but that you have spare capacity to help out with more challenging work.

34. Or alternatively, suggest projects you can be involved in.

35. If you’re trapped at your desk with no chance of networking, create your own opportunities by setting up meetings with people outside your team or management chain.

36. If it becomes clear early in your internship that no interns are ever offered permanent roles at the company, endeavour to ask senior staff why this is the case. The fact that you are attempting to rectify the situation will stand you out from others.

37. Making a mistake during an internship can feel devastating but everyone makes mistakes at work at some point in their career. If you do something wrong, notify your supervisor immediately and make it clear that you would like to solve the problem yourself. Owning up to your downfalls will make you are more reliable colleague and employee.

Before Your Internship Ends

38. Book exit meetings with your supervisor and key contacts.

39. Get a written reference listing your achievements and take contact details of anyone you think could help you in your future career.

40. Ensure you thank colleagues who have offered time and advice.

41. Don’t forget to take a few cakes in for your last day in the office! Everybody loves cake.

42. The most important objective for your last few days is to ask for feedback covering your whole internship and learning points that can help you develop in the future.

43. Don’t ignore this feedback – use it to consider how you work in your next role and to book onto courses that will help you to develop.

Follow Up

44. Make sure you write your own report of your internship, it will jog your memory if you need to think of useful experiences at work as examples for interviews in the future.

45. If there was someone particularly inspiring that you met during your placement, keep in contact with them and ask them to be your mentor.

46. Keep in touch with other members of the team by email and ask them to let you know of any job opportunities or freelance work that might be coming up.

47. Also, use your contacts to keep your finger on the pulse of your chosen industry – this can be difficult once you return to the world of study or a job outside the area you’re aiming for.

48. If possible, ask your supervisor for a written report that can be used as a quick job reference in the future.

And Finally…

49. The most important tip is that you should never give up. Internships can be tough, especially for people who have not previously worked in an office.

50. If you have an issue, don’t be afraid to ask for advice from colleagues, your supervisor and others outside work.

51. Try to relax and remain professional whilst milking your internship for all the development opportunities it offers.  View your internship as a vocational learning experience.

About the Author:
Patrick Ross is a blogger who focuses his articles on young adults who are entering new careers. If you are interested in a career in PR and are considering an internship you might want to check out this blog, PR internships, which includes other articles from Patrick and other bloggers like himself.

 

 

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Hungry for Social Media Measurement Standards?

Don’t know about you, but I’ve been starved for standardization in social media measurement and analysis for ages. With hundreds of service providers offering secret sauces and black-box solutions, how can a PR pro know if his results approximate reality? Or, how does he/she compare reports from one vendor to the next?

Well, good news. Thanks to a cross-industry collaboration of PR trade bodies; social media analytics, advertising and word-of-mouth associations, and a handful of blue-chip client companies, progress is definitely being made. An update was given at the 4th Annual AMEC European Measurement Summit a few weeks ago by Tim Marklein of W2O Group and Katie Paine of KDPaine & Partners, who are leading the charge (see www.smmstandards.org).

The work follows the AMEC Barcelona Principles in 2010 and the AMEC Valid Metrics Framework in 2011, both of which established preliminary methods for measuring social media. Next steps are creating standards in six areas of priority (listed below). While the first has been completed, the subsequent five are slated for updates this fall after additional Cross-Industry Collaboration meetings.

Content Sourcing & Methods – Not all content venues, aggregators and analysts are created equal. So, all social media measurement reports should include a standard “content sourcing and methodology” table that helps clients know “what’s on the inside.” A new Sources & Methods Transparency Table is now ready for use!

Reach & Impressions – Accurate impressions data is hard to get, and source transparency is needed with clear labeling and clarification across media types. By the way, multipliers should never be used; in fact, dividers are more appropriate.

Engagement – Engagement is an action that occurs after reach, and which could even be a business outcome. It manifests differently by channel, but is typically measurable as follows based on the effort required, opinion and how it is shared.

  • Low – ‘likes’ and ‘follows’
  • Medium – blog/video comments and retweets
  • High – Facebook shares and original content/video posts

Influence & Relevance – Influence is something that takes place beyond engagement; it is multi-level and multi-dimensional, online and offline. It is not popularity, nor a singular score.  It is relevant by domain and subject level. Influence and relevance should be rated via human research; not algorithms.

Opinion & Advocacy – Sentiment is over-rated and over-used and varies by vendor and approach. Opinions, recommendations and other qualitative measures are better, but coding definitions, consistency and transparency are critical:

  • Opinions (“it’s a good product”)
  • Recommendations (“try it or avoid it”)
  • Feeling/Emotions (“that product makes me happy”)
  • Intended action (“I’m going to buy that product tomorrow”)

Impact & Value – These terms are not interchangeable and will depend on client objectives and outcomes. “ROI” should be strictly limited to measurable financial impact; but “total value” can be used for financial and non-financial impact combinations. Value can be calculated in positive results (sales, reputation, etc.) or avoided negative results (risk mitigated, costs avoided).

Would you like to be involved as standards are developed? Follow the #SMMStandards hashtag on Twitter and provide your feedback!

About the Author
Angela Jeffrey is founder of MeasurementMatch.com, a high-level consultancy that helps clients create PR and social media measurement strategies and identify suitable service providers. She is also a member of the Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission. Find her on Twitter @ajeffrey1 or at angie@measurementmatch.com

 

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The Benefits of Working on Political Campaigns for Entry-Level PR Pros

Though the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest levels since early 2009, the job market is still inundated with seasoned professionals. This has made it a little more difficult for PR graduates on the employment front, especially in public relations where many entry-level positions require at least two years of experience. But one thing I’ve found that has helped me stand out in the industry was working on a political campaign.

 

In 2007, I started my master’s degree in communications and, one year later, took an internship with a PR firm. Waste deep into the internship, the 2008 presidential elections were well under way and one of my mentors came to me and asked if I’d be interested in working on the campaign trail. At first, I didn’t know what to say. I had no experience in politics and wasn’t sure where it might take me. Before I could answer, my mentor told me to take the job; that it would greatly impact my future.

Turns out, he was right.

It’s almost four years later and I have seen the inside of the Pentagon, worked for cabinet-level members, written speeches for Congresswomen and had various opportunities to work on great initiatives in the private sector. I credit my campaign experience and the support of my mentors as being the main reasons why I have had such a fruitful career path thus far.

So, if you’re willing to put in long hours for little pay – familiar conditions in the entry-level PR world – in order to gain experience and bolster your resume, then you might want to consider joining this year’s campaign trail. Here are some additional, important reasons as to why working on a political campaign can be an asset for young PR pros:

1. You’ll Gain a Wealth of Knowledge: Companies often specialize in specific fields. On a campaign, you gain knowledge on the facts of virtually every industry in the U.S., from agriculture, to defense, to education policy to finance. This position’s you to be able to work in various industries and not be pigeonholed down the road.

2. Get Hands-On Experience: Some companies like to keep the interns in the background, whereas campaigns need all the help they can get. On short notice, I was asked to staff a press event for a campaign surrogate, which I had never done before. As my supervisor at the time said, “The best way to learn is to learn on the job, so hit the ground running!”

3. Learn How to Deal with Fast-Pace Environments: With campaigns being so public and high-profile, you are pushed to another level of working under pressure – something that all PR pros need to become comfortable with. When you’re writing a press release with facts and figures associated with your candidate, there is no room, or time, to make mistakes. On a campaign, you quickly learn how to write a sound article under pressure, and with tight deadlines.

4. Experience Different Events: On a campaign, you are constantly on your feet and running around. Whether it’s a student rally or a press event, there are dozens of opportunities you need to get coverage on. The campaign will work your judgment-making skills to the max, helping you to become better at spotting media opportunities. You’ve got to strike while the iron is hot!

5. Grow Thick Skin: Working on a campaign brings a whole new meaning to the word “deadline.” Your director, the reporters and your campaign mates are all strung out on coffee and sleepless nights. There is no time but to get to the point. When I first started out in PR, I took forever getting to the point when pitching to reporters. I took it personally when they hung up on me or when my director grew impatient. Working on the campaign helped me grow thicker skin and a quicker mind.

6. Become Prepared on All Fronts: PR Pros should be able to see every angle to a story, both good and bad, both weak and strong. This is especially true in politics. Working with the press on a campaign teaches you to not only pay attention to your own side of the argument, but challenges you to understand your competitors sometimes better than you understand yourself. You have to always be prepared and be one step ahead of your competition. Be clever, savvy and a fact-checking machine.

7. End up a Pitching Machine: On the campaign, you are exposed to local, national and sometimes international media. With each early morning that you spend clipping news articles, you start to become well-read on not just domestic issues, but on communities and people throughout the U.S. and the world. This teaches you to learn the various styles of reporters and how to speak to them in their language. When a client seeks your advice on where they can place their story, you’ll be prepared to give them several of the best options.

8. Networking Opportunities are Everywhere: As the saying goes: “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know that matters.” Though I still like to stress that always being open to learning new things and honing your skills is key in maintaining a successful career, make no mistake that making connections with lots of different people can also open doors for you. This is especially true on campaigns.

At the end of the day, regardless of the career path you choose, always make sure you do something that you are passionate about. If you find yourself staring down an unfamiliar path, believe in yourself and take a leap. You’d be surprised at how far just one opportunity can take you.

About the Author
A South Florida native, Jacqueline Ortiz Ramsay is an alumnus of the Florida State University and worked on the 2008 Obama/Biden presidential campaign in North Florida. She has also worked at the U.S. Department of Defense as a Communications Specialist and was politically appointed at the U.S. Department of Justice. Passionate about multicultural communications, she recently joined a private firm and travels between Florida and Washington, D.C., to work on public policy and Hispanic Affairs initiatives. Follow her on Twitter: @JacquelineO_PR.

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Making a Good Infographic

 

You might say that we’re in the golden age of infographics. They’re everywhere, pulling the humdrum facts that make up our world and arranging them in ways that show connections in the data that we didn’t know were there. We share them like crazy, and that makes infographics a powerful online marketing tool if they’re designed properly.

And there’s the rub: so many infographics get it wrong. But if you know the underlying principles that help shape the truly good ones, you’ll have a better handle on infographics design and how to build a visual winner from the ground up.

A Unified Concept

You could have all the facts in the world about shoes. But without a unifying idea, what point are you trying to make with your infographic? Without some type of thesis to work toward, you’ll fail at the most basic point of the graphic: to show how the data is connected. Lack of a driving point also dooms your visual design from the start; I’ve seen too many infographics that are simply a collage of semi-related facts.

Where do you get that unifying idea? It’s hidden in the data. Anemic infographics are boring to read, and the readers know they’re thin on content. Fact-dense infographics intrigue people and get them to pass your infographic along. The most important thing you can do is identify the underlying questions that the facts inspire and visualize the not-so-obvious connections between disparate pieces of data.

Visual Simplicity and Readability

If you have to explain the visual elements of your graphic with a lot of text, maybe your design isn’t going to grab readers’ attention like it ought to. And the worst sin you can commit when doing online PR is to be boring. Someone should be able to capture the idea of the graphic within the first 5 seconds and still be diving into the details after 5 minutes.

It’s an infographic, not an “infotext.” I don’t care how perfect you think the font you chose is; any graphic should be primarily made up of visual elements. And a couple of pie-charts does not an infographic make. The visual design needs to create patterns that show the relationships and meaning inherent in the data you’re trying to represent. When you reveal connections between ideas that aren’t necessarily intuitive, that sparks people’s interest, and that gets your graphic shared.

Try not to make it too massive. Big isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but there’s definitely a point at which you’ve gone too far, especially if the reader has to scroll more than once or twice to read the whole thing.

Portability and Shareability

It’s a lot harder for your infographic to go viral if you don’t make it easy to share. Place it on your blog or website with prominently displayed embed code and share buttons for Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. When people can post a link to your graphic in just a few seconds, it can make the difference between them sharing it or reading it and moving on.

Also, any piece of content needs to exist in a relevant space on the Web. If you don’t place your infographic in a place where it will get noticed by people who care about the content, then what’s the point?

Starting with these underlying concepts, it’s a lot easier to build a compelling infographic right from the start. Otherwise, your graphic might just wind up unnoticed and unshared, like so many of the bad graphics sitting on lonely blogs and sites all over the Internet.

About the Author
Aubrey Phelps grew up in a small town and always knew she wanted to achieve…something, and she has. She packed her bags for college but instead of a degree she earned a husband. Bringing four years of SEO experience and expertise, she is an superb account executive who blends her cocktail of knowledge and unparalleled people skills to take on the world. Contact her company via @prmarketingcom.

 

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The Art of Landing New PR Clients via Social Media

Statistically speaking, social media has proven to be a powerful tool for landing new clients and servicing existing ones. Whether it’s getting the attention of a reporter who then does a feature on a client through a facebook post, getting a friend request from a stranger claiming he wants to hire you, or just trolling through your LinkedIn page and profile views and following up with an intro email, using social media accounts to land new clients and service existing ones can be very profitable.

I’ve gotten several new clients this way, mostly through my LinkedIn. The first was a Miami company owner who sent a connect request explaining he’d like to hire me to get his name up on search engines. His email was courteous and to the point. “You don’t know me but I am interested in hiring you. I’m impressed with your accomplishments.” He gave his phone number and asked me to call him. I Googled him. The company was legit. After we exchanged a few emails discussing his pr needs, I further checked out his company and sent him my phone number. He sent a retainer that day. More requests came.

Soon after, I quickly realized I could increase my new client contacts by following a few simple social media guidelines:

  • Always present yourself professionally, even in your personal social media accounts- you NEVER know who will view your profile
  • Monitor to see who is checking your profile- check their legitimacy, then send an intro email
  • Update and maintain your accounts and sites frequently
  • Strengthen your network by asking others to refer you to their clients and contacts
  • Increase visitors and contacts by including your your social media sites in your email signature, website, advertisements, and on business cards
  • LinkedIn is proven to be a top producer of new client introductions, give those viewing your profile a clear idea of your specializations and keep it updated as your career progresses
  • Ask for recommendations from your past and current clients
  • Cross-connect your blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts and have successes and updates and posts appear simultaneously when possible to reach maximum contacts and followers
  • Create a buzz of curiousity by viewing LinkedIn profiles of clients that you would like to work for; they will see that you have viewed their profiles and perhaps view yours, finding that you are just who they are looking for
  • Get freelance work by sending intro messages to those in similar professions and industries
  • Post on-going client successes to show you are capable of producing results
  • Follow and friend your media and pr contacts and keep them informed of client story, photo and pr opportunities
  • Offer social-media directed incentives to lure new clients
  • Offer rewards/services to existing clients and social media contacts for referrals who become new clients
However, you also need to use caution and common sense when doing this. In meeting anyone you don’t know, where there’s an opportunity to gain a new client, there is also the chance of communicating with someone you’d rather not know! It’s okay to be suspicious; it’s imperative that you protect yourself by investigating the potential client before responding.

In any profession, there’s a certain grain of trust you put out there when you post your name, picture, address, phone number and website. In PR, relating to the public is your first nature, and you want to think the best of those who contact you; you hold a certain level of confidence that you are wise enough to know a scam artist from a legitimate job offer. I follow a few simple guidelines before I reply to people who find me through my social media sites:

  • Google the potential client’s name
  • Research the company and website blogs, social media sites, customer feedback, etc.
  • If you’re still not sure, ‘secret-shop’ the company to get a sense of their professionalism, customer service and follow-up with a simple phone call
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau, public records, criminal search sites, and returns on their phone number and email addresses through search sites
  • Over a course of a few days, visit their social media sites for a feel for who they are and how they communicate with others
  • Read recommendations from other clients or customers on LinkedIn, and posts on Twitter and Facebook
  • Check their past experience, qualifications, abilities, and accomplishments
  • If you still have doubts, ask them for a few references

Are these tips helpful? Are there any others you’d like to add? Please comment on this post and share with others!

About the Author

Sherry Gavanditti has been a PR/media specialist for the past 30 years and   currently works for various clients, including Menorah Park Campus, the largest premier nursing care facility in Ohio. In addition to serving a vast array of clients’ PR and design needs, additional experience includes working with the Associated Press, Crain’s Cleveland Business, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, and various other daily, weeky and monthly magazines and newspapers. Contact her on Twitter.

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